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The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Tanya Salgado explores how being a mama who is far from friends and family affects her, and how she copes.
Tanya is not alone in being geographically far from friends and family — many moms in this global day and age do not live near loved ones. This post is especially relatable to all moms now, during times of COVID and social distancing, as we are all experiencing a version of what Tanya goes through on a daily basis.
All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.
Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to have kids.
I love babies and couldn’t wait to have one of my own. I would picture all the sweet things that come along with having babies: chunky legs and cheeks, little hands and feet, baby clothes, the milestones, the cuteness galore.
Something I also imagined was sharing all of this with my girlfriends and family.
Since high school, my good friend Jenny and I would talk about how we wanted to get married and have babies. It was a dream for us to have that family unit.
Fast forward almost twenty years later, we’re still friends and she has a one year old and I have a two month old! Lily, also a high school friend, has a one year old! My cousin has two little ones, my oldest brother has an almost one year old, and one of my other brothers has a toddler!
You would say, how lucky we are that we are going through this wonderful life stage together.
And it is! It really is. Except for one little detail.
We live in different countries.
I left what we called our home almost four years ago. So, I don’t get to share with them like I would want. My parents are closer than all of them, yet they live a good twelve hours of a drive away.
To top it off, we have not befriended many in our new home. Especially not any moms!
I’m not too far along motherhood yet, my baby being only an infant and a few months old.
But I am a mom and it has already changed my life completely.
I was lucky that my mom was able to come and stay for a couple of weeks for my baby’s birth, my brother and his girlfriend also came to meet our baby, my mother and sister in law as well.
But I have to tell you, it was always very emotional when it was time to say goodbye. (Ask them, they’ll tell you how I cried even though I hardly do in front of others).
I believe that in those early weeks hormones probably also had something to do with my emotions being so intense.
But I also know that it was because it was hard to accept that I had never wanted to be close to my good friends and family more than I do now.
During my pregnancy, I’d read how new moms needed to rely on a “support system”.
It made some sense to me, I knew that everything was going to be so new that I would need help at least in the form of advice.
But I didn’t realize that more than the do’s and don’ts of baby raising, I would need emotional support, or simply be in the presence of someone that would understand the immensity of the changes I was going through.
Hey! — If only to go out for a coffee and for each of us struggle with our respective infants.
Mothers, and I’d dare to say, new mothers especially, need a support system.
Now that I think about it, I heard it all around me!
My baby’s pediatrician told me, all the new mommy Instagram accounts I followed told me, the baby app I downloaded on my phone for my pregnancy told me!
And all said that it would be OK to ask for help because I would need it. And, oh, did I!
However, there’s no use in lamenting over this fact. It is what it is.
Maybe the future will allow us to move back to family and friends but right now it’s not the time.
I try to make the best of it. Really, I have what’s most important, my precious baby!
Coming to peace about this and accepting my situation has been very helpful.
And, despite being miles apart physically, I have to say that my mommy friends (and even non-mommy friends) have been there for me when I needed someone to ask baby questions, or to hear how I was feeling.
I remember feeling overwhelmed the first week after giving birth and my friend Lily sending me a message asking how I was doing, and that it was perfectly ok to cry, that she’d cry every day for a whole month when she had her baby.
I cannot begin to tell you how supported I felt after I read her message.
And after that, I confided in my friends and family, and I have received nothing but support and more than a welcoming will to give me advice or simply listen when I need to be listened to. (You guys know who you are and thank you!).
I hope that if any of you moms are reading this and going through something similar, realize you are not alone. Knowing that others have gone or are going through the same thing is of great comfort to me.
I’d recommend to start confiding in your close friends even though they are far. Especially if they are parents like you!
Although they cannot be there physically, we are lucky enough to live in a time when communication throughout the world is easier than ever and happens immediately.
Take advantage of the digital world we live in and use it to your advantage when it comes to your situation!
Join Facebook groups (I’m currently on Mothers Beyond Belief, Minimalist Moms and Mothers of July/August 2019 Babies) and follow mommy accounts on Instagram or other social media.
I have found great accounts, even some that specialize in motherhood psychology.
And believe me, I don’t exaggerate how very much in community I feel just by following them, reading and even interacting with their posts.
The Mom Brain Therapist (@mombrain.therapist) on Instagram names geographic isolation as one of the factors that contribute to loneliness in early motherhood.
Some of her tips for dealing with this are:
– scheduling text/FaceTime sessions with friends and family to have moments of connection, at home dates with your partner
– online or in person support groups
– of course, therapy/psychiatric support if an underlying postpartum mental condition exists.
Also, I have found great comfort in knowing I have a very professional and amazing medical team (my obstetrician and my baby’s pediatrician). Don’t hesitate to ask them questions when you feel you need to!
And most of all, remember that what we place our focus on expands.
As hard as it may be at first, try to count your blessings each and every day. Your situation may not be ideal, yet you have plenty to be thankful for.
Embrace the kind of motherhood that you are living at this moment and I promise you, arising from the challenges will only bring about a stronger mother.
*Tip: I’d recommend joining parenting groups with similar interests as yours.
I want to say a big “Thank you!” to Tanya for this guest post on being a mama who is far from friends and family. Thank you for opening up about your struggle and how it affected you as a person and as a mama. And thank you for your words of advice.
YOU CAN READ MORE OF Tanya’s POSTS ON HER BLOG Sensibly Beautiful! FOLLOW ALONG WITH her ON FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM!
See the rest of the posts in the Baggage & Motherhood series here!
Christina is the writer behind the blog Real Life Mama. She is a mom two littles, a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Christina and her family live in San Diego, where she is a full-time mama, part-time mental health therapist (LPCC), and round-the-clock blogger, writer, and author. If she ever gets a moment to herself, she can be found singing at the top of her lungs, cooking, and crafting. Thanks for reading!